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Avs End Season With 4-1 Loss To Ducks

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche
DENVER (AP) - Anaheim's stingy defense and red-hot rookie goaltender are headed to the Western Conference Finals after the Mighty Ducks completed a sweep of the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 Thursday night.

Todd Marchant, Teemu Selanne and Dustin Penner scored goals and 25-year-old Russian rookie Ilya Bryzgalov was again brilliant in goal for the Ducks, who are moving on to the conference finals for the second time in three seasons.

Bryzgalov stopped 40 shots, capping a dazzling series that included two wins on the road after his shutout streak was snapped at three games and just shy of 250 minutes, the longest by a rookie and second best in NHL playoff history.

Anaheim, which stifled Colorado's Fab Four of Joe Sakic, Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk and Andrew Brunette all series long, handed the Avs their first sweep in 26 playoff series since they arrived from Quebec before the 1995-96 season.

The sixth-seeded Ducks earned some well-deserved rest, too.

They're the only team that hasn't had a skip day between playoff games, having played every other day since April 21 and making three trips to Calgary and one to Denver.

San Jose is up 2-1 in the other Western Conference semifinal series with Game 4 scheduled for Friday night at Edmonton.

The Ducks stretched their streak to 36 consecutive penalties killed by turning away all five of Colorado's power plays. The Avs finished 0-for-24 on the power play in the series and ended the season in an 0-for-33 slump over six games.

Although their defense was tight, the Ducks were loose.

After they took a 3-0 lead in the series on Joffrey Lupul's four-goal game Tuesday night, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle called an optional practice Wednesday. More players participated in a pickup soccer game in the hallways of the Pepsi Center than took the ice.

The Avs appeared to have the tenacity to send the series back to California when they came out playing fast and furious, and Sakic sent a wrist shot from the left circle past Bryzgalov just 2:17 after the opening faceoff.

However, they failed to extend their lead during a nearly four-minute stretch when they had a man advantage.

Late in the first period, Marchant puck past Jose Theodore for the tying goal, his first of the playoffs.

Early in the second period, Andy McDonald got the puck out of the corner and fed it to former Avs forward Selanne for his fifth goal of the playoffs and a 2-1 Anaheim lead.

Early in the third, Marchant passed to Penner for the goal at 6:07.

Marchant added an unassisted empty-netter with 1:38 left.

Notes: The Ducks' other sweeps both came in 2003, over Detroit and Minnesota on their way to the Stanley Cup finals, which they lost to New Jersey in seven games. ... When the Avs were known as the Nordiques they were swept twice: by the New York Islanders in the 1982 Eastern Conference finals and in 1986 by Hartford in the division semifinals. ... Avs D Ossi Vaananen returned from a broken right ankle that forced him to miss the final 29 games of the regular season and Colorado's first eight playoff games. ... Avs C Jim Dowd received a misconduct for arguing a holding call with 6:36 remaining.

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